ABC managing director David Anderson. (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

The ABC can (legally) tell the government to sod off when it comes to pay, WA police needs to study the “Streisand effect”, and Michael McCormack’s horrifying choice of words. Catch up with all the latest Tips and Murmurs from the Crikey bunker.

Govt v the ABC

This morning The Australian‘s media diary brought the news of an “an explosive letter” from head of the Australian public service Peter Woolcott to ABC managing director David Anderson. The letter made it clear the government’s six-month freeze on pay rises for public servants “also applies to all ‘non-Australian public service’ bodies funded by the taxpayer, most notably the ABC”.

The piece says that as of last week Anderson hadn’t replied. We have a theory why: the government’s power to direct the ABC regarding pay — or much else while we’re on the subject — is precisely sod-all squared.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act, aside from a “public interest” clause that’s never been used, “the corporation is not subject to direction by or on behalf of the government of the Commonwealth”. We asked the ABC if that’s why it hadn’t replied but it declined to comment. Wow. It does hurt.

ABC watch

We’ve given the ABC a kick previously for some fairly credulous anti-booze reporting, and apparently we missed one. A clarification published at the weekend shows it was publishing extremely misleading alcohol fear-mongering as early as mid-April:

On Thursday 16 April ABC News Sydney, The World at Noon, the news channel ‘ticker’, RN Drive and NewsRadio reported on a survey conducted by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education showing that one in five people are saying their households are buying more alcohol and, of these, 70% are saying they are drinking more. The reports incorrectly suggested that 70% of all people surveyed said they were drinking more.

Wacko watch

I know a lot of people set their hair on fire about climate change and all the rest — yes it is important … but what’s important is also jobs for the here and now.

Thus spake future ex-leader of the Nationals Michael McCormack on Friday while arguing for more coal (what else?) as part of Australia’s energy road map. This coming mere months from when catastrophic (and climate change-linked) bushfires killed 34 people and about one billion animals.

Readers, what’s the worst climate change-related choice of words you can remember? Let us know.

Streisand effect and magic mushrooms

We spotted an interesting item in The West Australian last week, with the police force of Nannup in the state’s south-west warning of the dangers of magic mushrooms:

With psilocybin mushroom season fast approach, Nannup police have issued a warning to those planning on picking them. ‘We know the time frames when psilocybin grows … and that’s when are at our peak patrolling,’ Sgt Al McNevin said. ‘Don’t ingest it, don’t pick it, just it where it is, it is very very dangerous for the body.’

Sgt McNevin said psilocybin took away a persons ability to reason and caused hallucinations.

You hear that everyone? While you can’t go to the pub or have a proper party, there are magic mushrooms growing around the small town you live in. Do NOT go find them, eat them, and have an absolutely wild time.

This is something of a tradition this time of year — police warning about the hallucinogens that grow in WA’s south-west. I suspect they might wish to look up the Streisand effect.

Pelican brief

On Thursday the ABC’s PM program described the “unusual visit” of a pelican to the remote NT community of Santa Teresa. But as Crikey blogger Bob Gosford points out in this lovely piece, there’s nothing unusual about it:

Santa Teresa — and Alice Springs — are both close to the south-western fringe of the pelican’s range in Centralia but from my own experience pelicans aren’t necessarily uncommon throughout the inland. Pelicans are marvellous long-distance travellers and for mine there are few things more thrilling than spotting long lines of pelicans gliding at great height over the desert heading who knows where.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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